Hi! My name is Persephone and this is my sad, but true, story. I’m 17 now, but when the story takes place I’ll be 16, and it will be my birthday. My father is currently setting up for my birthday party in the hall. Today’s supposed to be a happy day, you know… my Sweet 16. But this day isn’t very sweet. It’s actually bitter and sour. I can’t help it, my mother died last week. I feel as though a gray cloud has followed me around since her death. She was my best friend. She promised she’d always be there for me. Guess life had other plans. Dad’s trying to keep a smile on his face for me, but I know he’s having a hard time too. Sometimes, when we’re watching TV, he forgets I’m there. I look over at him and see the signs of grief spread across his face, his eyes overflowing with tears.
The party was a dud. The hall was filled with grief and tension. With the cloud still following me, I went to hide. My gown’s train, following close behind. I took my purse and left. My dad nowhere in sight. When I pulled up to the McDonald’s parking lot, I was tired and hungry. The guests had arrived too late, by then the kitchen staff had already left. The DJ cancelled last minute. Almost no one had shown up. Out of the 70 invited, 25 had shown up. All of them were family I hadn’t seen in years or had never met. I had texted Henry, the only attendee who I truly know (besides my dad) to sneak away from the party and meet me here. I went in and ordered a Big Mac, a large chocolate chip frappe, and a large fries. (I was quite hungry!) As I went to sit down, I saw Henry waving me over.
I moved my food over to where Henry was sitting. He appeared to have ordered the same thing as me. Sometimes, he seems like my other-half, I feel I can trust him, which is why I asked him to meet me here. I needed a break from all the gloominess. I needed to leave; I needed Henry’s help. As I explained I wanted him to come along on my adventure, Henry had on a very composed face. He nodded his head, genuinely listening. When I was done with my plea, a smile broke and spread across his face, as he asked me, “When are we leaving?” Like I said, my other half.
The next thing I know, I’m going home to pack and tell my dad I’m going on an adventure.
I pulled up to the driveway and I could feel something was wrong as soon as the night’s cold breeze hit my face. I grabbed my bag, picked up the train of my dress, and bolted into the house. There was an unfamiliar silence. The house with no one inside gives me chills. Dad should be home! I could tell he had come home, due to the neatly stacked piles of presents on the kitchen table. I sat on the couch, the glass coffee table, cracked. Fear poured into my mind. I grabbed my phone from my purse and speed-dialed his number. I knew something was completely wrong when Dr. Barren from the emergency room answered my dad’s phone. Whilst talking to the doctor, I grabbed my suitcase for the trip and a duffel for Dad, packed them, got in my car, and rushed to the hospital.
Turns out Dad didn’t need the duffel. He was gone. They say he died from a broken heart. Now the only one I had left was Henry. I had to leave fast. As I drove through town to pick up Henry, I saw the houses as a collective, not as before. Most of my life, alongside my dad, was me learning to see the strength of every detail and individuality in general. Now, as I drove by, I saw the houses as a collective and realized how mismatched everything seemed, as if the town were fighting itself. There seemed to be cruel, harsh, and dark vibes.
I strongly believe that people should not run away from their problems. I also believe people think everyone has the option: to flee or to confront. As you all might have guessed, I’ve chosen to flee rather than confront the grief haunting this town.
When I pulled up to Henry’s house, he was sitting on his porch steps, with a toothy grin. He was writing in his journal. He was planning something I could not predict. I honked the horn to announce my arrival. He looked up, saw me, and smiled even wider. Henry grabbed his bags and put them in the trunk of my car, which I had opened just seconds before. Then, he came and sat by my side in the passenger’s seat. Now came the most difficult step: Where would we be going? We had endless possibilities ahead.
I had no idea where to go. I’d forgotten to plan this far in my escape. But Henry, he must have known. What lies in his 5 years old journal is the answer, this entire trip mapped out between worn out pages. Before, I couldn’t predict what was in that journal. But Henry, Henry somehow managed to predict 5 years ago that I would want to escape this town, haunted with grief. The town that carried away in the passing winds our childhood memories, to be forgotten. Henry knew, he knew me so well. That’s why he smiled when I asked him to come along because all his work in the past 5 years would’ve already paid off. We were headed to Disneyland and LA.